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Worsley family tell of 'great comfort' over explorer's impact

Published 26/01/2016

Worsley, 55, from Fulham, London, died after he was airlifted off the ice 30 miles short of crossing the Antarctic unsupported
Worsley, 55, from Fulham, London, died after he was airlifted off the ice 30 miles short of crossing the Antarctic unsupported
The Duke of Cambridge (left) with Henry Worsley, who was raising funds for the Endeavour charity

The family of polar explorer Henry Worsley have spoken of the "great comfort" they have taken following his death in knowing the huge impact he had on so many people.

The 55-year-old adventurer was aiming to complete the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic and was 30 miles from his goal when he had to be airlifted from the ice after falling ill. He died on Sunday.

Worsley was raising money for the Endeavour Fund, which helps wounded and sick servicemen and women, and since his death donations have soared to more than £215,000, with gift aid, over double his £100,000 target.

His family said: " We are hugely grateful for the incredibly kind messages of support and sympathy we have received from people all over the world.

"Thank you to everyone who has shared their warm wishes and fond memories of Henry. It is a great comfort to our family to know that he has had an impact on so many people's lives."

Worsley, from Fulham, south-west London, radioed for help as he tried to complete the unfinished journey of his lifelong hero Sir Ernest Shackleton to mark the 100th anniversary of Shackleton's expedition.

In a poignant last message posted online on Friday, he said: "My summit is just out of reach."

He resolved to "gather my thoughts in a final message in the coming days" and finished with the words: ''This is Henry Worsley, signing off, journey's end.''

His wife Joanna Worsley rushed to Chile where her husband had been flown for surgery for bacterial peritonitis - an infection in the abdomen - but was unable to reach him before he died from complete organ failure. Plans are being put in place to repatriate him to the UK, while Foreign Office staff are supporting Ms Worsley.

Scores of tributes were left on the Virgin Money Giving page for the former lieutenant-colonel.

One donor, Philip Smith, wrote: "I had the privilege of serving with Col Henry briefly with 2RGJ in Kosovo and was greatly saddened by the news of his death. What better epitaph than service and sacrifice for the benefit of so many others."

His death also inspired messages from the young, with teenager Amy Rose writing: "I am 16 years old, but I think I will remember Mr Worsley and I hope I will carry his spirit with me when I face challenges."

British astronaut Tim Peake paid tribute from space to his fellow explorer, tweeting: "Thoughts are with the family & friends of Henry Worsley - a true explorer, adventurer & inspiration to many."

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner tweeted: "My last memory of explorer Henry Worsley who died crossing Antarctica: our dinner together in Kandahar, full of plans for his next adventure."

The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, whose Royal Foundation manages the Endeavour Fund, also expressed their sadness at the news.

William, who was patron of the expedition, said he and Harry had lost a friend as he paid tribute to Worsley's ''selfless commitment'' to fellow soldiers.

:: Henry Worsley's fundraising page is http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ShackletonSolo

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